The Chinese ambassador to the UK has warned that Huawei’s £3 billion investment in the UK could be jeopardised by the decision to ban the company from the nation’s 5G rollout.
Huawei has had a presence in the UK for two decades, investing billions in research facilities and becoming an infrastructure to all four mobile operators.
It was expected that this relationship would continue into the 5G era and Huawei had planned to spend a further £3 billion In the coming years. Most recently, planning permission was granted in South Cambridgeshire for a billion-pound campus focusing on optoelectronics.
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However earlier this month, the company’s future in the UK market was placed into serious doubt after a reversal in government policy saw operators banned from purchasing Huawei 5G kit by 2020. What’s more, they will have to remove any existing gear in their network by 2027. The decision was justified on national security grounds, although Huawei denies any allegations of wrongdoing.
The government itself has admitted its actions will lead to delays and increased costs for operators, affecting the price and level of service for customers.
Writing in the South China Morning Post, Liu Xiaoming warned that the UK could miss out on many of the economic and societal gains promised by 5G networks, the effect of which will be amplified by the need for recovery following the Coronavirus pandemic.
“In 2018, [Huawei] announced a further investment plan of £3 billion in the next five years, which is a positive vote for growth in Britain,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, this will now be subject to uncertainties in light of the British government’s recent decision.
“Huawei is a leader in 5G. Britain could either choose to cooperate with Huawei and gain an edge in the era of the digital economy, or refuse such cooperation and give up leadership in a 5G-dominated future.
“History does not wait for the hesitant. In the face of the overwhelming trend of 5G development, countries must respect each other, remain open and choose cooperation to build a bright future together.
“I hope visionary people in Britain will see the big picture of Chinese-British cooperation, bear in mind the well-being of the peoples of the two countries, listen to reasonable voices and make a wise choice on Huawei so as to embrace opportunities, embrace growth and embrace the future.”
A Huawei spokesperson said: “We’ve announced no change to our strategy. We are conducting a detailed review of what the announcement means for our business here in the UK; it remains too early to speculate.”
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